Archive for August 2009

Colletti’s Crowning Achievement–Staying Employed   Leave a comment

Ned Colletti, since being hired by Jamie McCourt and her assistant, Frank, in 2005 has consistently shown the Dodgers and its fanbase why he’s not qualified to lead a Major League Baseball team. Sure, he’s made some good deals, but he’s fishing in an ocean of professional baseball players–he’s bound to hook one that isn’t bad. (And to his credit, he has–although they have been few and far between).

A soundbite from Ned is all that is needed to show his complete ineptitude in baseball management: “Do I use VORP (a baseball sabermetrics statistic called Value Over Replacement Player)? I may be using it and not even knowing it, and if I am, it’s nobody’s business. There are a lot of different criteria in judging players. I think I use, um, esoteric qualitative mathematical review times five. That’s one of them.”

Case closed. Need I say more? Nope, but I shall because Ned is like a cockroach–whether its a nuclear bombing or horrible multi-year signings of horrible players, he is able to survive it all while those around him die off.

Ned and his buddy, Frank (also known as the husband of Jamie McCourt, the owner and President of the Dodgers).

Ned and his buddy, Frank (also known as the husband of Jamie McCourt, the owner and President of the Dodgers).

Firstly, however, I do want to give credit where credit is due. Ned has made some good deals, much to our surprise–and to his, most likely. The following are the top 5 greatest acts Ned has made since taking the GM position vacated by Paul Depodesta. (Yes, I know, Depodesta was fired… but I’m trying to show some respect where respect is due.)

1. Ned sent volatile outfielder Milton Bradley and the overweight Antonio Perez to the A’s for their star outfield prospect out of Arizona State, Andre Ethier. Ethier has been the largest saving grace in Ned’s career, as he has developed into a power-hitting rightfielder (with suspect defense) who should be a mainstay for the Dodgers at the 3-5 position in the lineup. Since Ethier was traded to the Dodgers, he has produced a very promising statline in four seasons: .296/.366/.496/.862 (AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS). Ethier has steadily improved his power numbers in each of his four seasons, especially in terms of home runs (11, 13, 20 and 27) and RBI’s (55, 64, 77 and 87). Currently, he is having his best season to date and is being recognized around the league as a legitimate home run threat. With around a fifth of the season remaining, Ethier’s numbers are impressive: .287/.372/.539/.911, 27 HR, 33 2B, 87 RBI and 76 R. In addition to the success of Ethier, Bradley has been largely injured for parts of each of the last four seasons, never playing more than 126 games, and Perez is now out of the League. So, I say, congrats Ned… you closed your eyes and threw your hook down–and you nabbed a big one.

2. Ned does not trade away James Loney, Matt Kemp, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw. Ned’s assistant GM, Logan White, spent a lot of his genius drafting those five, among many other top talents, and Ned’s second largest achievement as the GM of the Dodgers is not screwing it up with those five.

Loney, despite his lack of power hitting, has shown that he a skilled hitter who will bat .280-.310 for many years to come while holding down first base and bringing in some Gold Glove hardware.

Kemp is the “raw” hitter who is currently batting .313 with 19 HR, 80 RBI and 76 R. Plus, he also has 27 stolen bases and regularly makes “did he just do what I think he just did” plays. Here’s a few for your enjoyment: http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=6105113, http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=6019027, http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=5794729.

Loney and Kemp are like peas and carrots.

Loney and Kemp are like peas and carrots.

Martin, although having a difficult season at the plate, is doing a superb job of leading a pitching staff racked with injuries. Although he’s batting only .257 this season, he has consistently proved that he is a .280-.300 hitter, albeit one with little to no home run power.

Billingsley looked to be the clear ace of the staff at the start of the season. However, his numbers have been hurt by some injuries and some bouts of ineffectiveness. Still, Billingsley is doing a good job facing off against the aces of other staffs. Aside from a horrible stretch in July, where he had an ERA of 7.52, Billingsley has been solid and has kept his team in the game. Although his ERA currently rests at 3.73, he has a 2.35 ERA in his last four starts.

This is the best young righty-lefty combination the Dodgers have raised since Koufax-Drysdale.

This is the best young righty-lefty combination the Dodgers have raised since Koufax-Drysdale.

Kershaw has a left arm annointed by God. He has a 2.96 ERA, but will most likely walk over 100 batters this season while potential striking out over 200. His stuff is nearly untouchable, but no more than his location is unpredictable. Still, given his unbelievable stretch of nine starts where he lowered his ERA from 4.13 to 2.76 by only giving up 5 earned runs, I think Kershaw and Billingsley will make a formidable 1-2 combination for years to come.

3. Ned trades Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris to the Pirates to get Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox in a three-team trade. Despite the steroids and his current hitting slump, Ramirez nearly single-handedly took the Dodgers to the Big Show last year. In half a season with the Blue Crew, he went .396/.489/.743/1.232.

4. Ned signs Manny Ramirez to a 2-year, $45 million deal. Despite Ramirez’s human-like 2009 season, it is still a great deal for the Dodgers who get several benefits from the Ramirez signing. First, Ramirez is having a “bad” season by batting .308/.427/.542/.970. Hopefully, he can rebound from his slump next season and put up some real stats. Second, the younger hitters, most notably the obsessive Ethier have learned considerably from Ramirez’s prepare-hard-and-don’t-sweat-the-small-things approach to hitting. Third, the fans love Manny being Manny and they fill the seats so that Frank and his boss, Jamie, can get rich.

Im baaaack.

"I'm baaaack."

5. Ned trades Cesar Izturis to the Cubs for Greg Maddux. Maddux was to the pitching staff what Ramirez was to the hitters. He had a solid 3.30 ERA in his 12 starts for the Dodgers. More importantly, however, Maddux was Yoda to numerous young padowans. Most notable among his disciples was Derek Lowe who has been a steadying factor for the Do… wait… what? The Dodgers let Lowe sign with the Braves without even making him an offer?

Maddog Maddux is my third favorite pitcher of all time, behind Satchel Paige and Pedro Martinez.

Maddog Maddux is my third favorite pitcher of all time, behind Satchel Paige and Pedro Martinez.

With that transition (smooth, huh?) it’s time for the five worst deals in Ned’s career with the Dodgers. Hmmm… so many to choose from… hmmm… in descending order this time. (There were so many to choose from that I had to create five categories rather than just five transactions.)

5. Players he traded for.

I will just choose the worst offense for this one. He traded for Danys Baez and Lance Carter during the 2006 playoff push, which, in and of itself, isn’t too horrible of a trade, but it’s ridulous when considering who he traded away… (wait until we get to #2).

4. Players he didn’t trade for.

Most notably, Cliff Lee, he of 0.68 ERA in 5 starts since moving to the NL. The Phillies gave up beans to get Lee; the Dodgers could have easily given up some rice in addition to those beans, but Ned presumed that the trade deadline would be a great time for a family vacation. The Roy Halladay deal falling through was not his fault, since Blue Jays GM JP Riciardelli wanted a package starting with either Billingsley or Kershaw. (I’m sure White was in his ear, begging him to drop the phone as Ned was contemplating taking the deal.) There is also the case of Ned allowing Derek Lowe and Joe Beimel to walk without so much as making an initial offer.

He couldve been in a Dodgers uniform.

He could've been in a Dodgers uniform.

3. Players he traded.

This brings me to the point I made earlier about Baez and Carter. Who did Ned trade for these two middle relievers? Chuck Tiffany and… Edwin Jackson. Yes, Jackson–the pitcher for the Tigers who is mowing down hitters and boasts an amazing 2.96 ERA. Thanks, Ned.

Edwin Jackson has been a beast for the Tigers. Can you imagine what mightve been if Depodesta was still the GM? Jackson-Kershaw-Billingsley

In addition to that, here are some others…

Cody Ross: Since trading Ross for beans, he has moved on to become a starting outfielder for the Marlins. In two season, Ross hit .265 with 42 home runs and 140 RBIs.

Dioner Navarro: Navarro has been solid behind the plate for the Rays, calling the pitches for a young staff. Although not a dominant hitter, Navarro has held his own, averaging .250 with 20 doubles per season.

Andy LaRoche: Yes, I know that he was traded for Ramirez and that’s a great thing. But I’m still bummed that the Dodgers weren’t able to keep him. He’s doing a serviceable job for the Pirates while showing some signs of why the Dodgers were so high on his power potential.

2. Players he signed.

Depodesta was ridiculed for his signing JD Drew to a 5-year $55 million contract. Yet, in his 1.5 seasons with the Dodgers, before he turned coat and signed with the Red Sox (under Ned’s watch, I might add), Drew was productive: (approximations) .285/.400/.510/.910.  He was overpriced, but not a bust. However, though Depodesta was humiliated and eventually fired, in part, for his decision on that deal, Ned has been allowed to get away with much greater blunders.

Tops on the list is a guy by the name of Andruw Fat Jones. Ned signed Jones to a 2-year, $36 million contract after he put up the following lines in 2007: .222/.311/.413/.724. I’m sorry, but those are not $18 million per year numbers. In his one season with the Dodgers before his buyout, he hit .158/.256/.249/.505. .158? Mendoza who? .249 slugging percentage? Merely 3 home runs and 14 RBIs in 75 games? Entering the season more than 20 pounds overweight? Many consider Jones to have resurrected his career this season with the Rangers. However, that’s only in comparison to the absolutely atrotious season he had with the Dodgers. His numbers this year aren’t spectacular. He’s still batting .217, although he does have 17 home runs on the season. So, wait, his numbers in 2007 weren’t a fluke? You mean, Ned really did give a $36 million contract to a .220 hitter with moderate 20-25 home run power. Ouch, that must be embarrasing Ned. But keep your head up… you’ll have time for wallowing in self-pity after I’m done.

Jones ESPN page used to list him as 210 pounds but they have changed it this season to reflect a more accurate 240 pounds.

Jones' ESPN page used to list him as 210 pounds but they have changed it this season to reflect a more accurate 240 pounds.

Ned also brought over his San Francisco buddy, Jason Schmidt. Schmidt was going to be the ace of the Dodgers rotation because he possessed a 2.34 ERA–in 2003. So, it made sense for Ned to sign Schmidt to a 3-year $47 million contract in 2006. And Ned’s trust in Schmidt (and not in the doctors who said he had a torn rotator cuff) was rewarded with 3 wins in 3 seasons. For those of you calculating at home, that’s $15.67 million per victory. To become a solid 90-win a season team, the Dodgers, under Ned’s philosophy of success, need to commit merely $1.41 billion a season. But, hey, what’s money got to do with it when you’re rich from your parking lot business like Frank and Jamie (or Jamie and Frank, as most of you will know it). Let the Dodgers beat the Yankees at their own game. Schmidt, after having his arm sliced into, has a fastball that compares with Jamie Moyer (hovering around the low 80’s) but unfortunately also has the control of Kershaw. And, let it be noted that one can only succeed with Kershaw’s control if one has… Kershaw’s stuff. Schmidt’s 81 mph fastball is closer to my high school fastball (70 mph and proud of it!) than to Kershaw’s 94 mph.

I used to bring the heat!

I used to bring the heat!

I won’t go into too much detail with Juan Pierre because I really like and respect him as a player and as a person. But it was still a horrible signing.

1. Getting in the way of Logan White’s career.

White has one of the greatest eyes for talent in all of baseball. The only thing in his way and a shot at being a GM–Ned. White has made smart picks throughout the drafts, but his acumen for talent evaluation is seen in the fact that his first round picks have been successful, especially praiseworthy since finding and evaluating pitching is one of the most difficult things to do. The following are White’s first round picks over the years. (This was originally researched by James Park.)

2002: James Loney, high school, 1B
2003:  Chad Billingsley, high school, RHP
2004: Scott Elbert, high school, LHP
2005: Luke Hochevar, Tennessee, RHP (did not sign)
2006: Clayton Kershaw, high school, LHP
2007: Chris Withrow, high school, RHP
2008: Ethan Martin, high school, RHP
2009: Aaron Miller, Baylor, LHP

2008 first-round pick Ethan Martin

2008 first-round pick Ethan Martin.

The following are some other notable picks by White.

Future Dodgers GM Logan White stands with Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda.

Future Dodgers GM Logan White stands with Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda.

2002 (2nd round): Jonathan Broxton, high school, RHP
2002 (4th round): Delwyn Young, Santa Barbara City College, 2B
2002 (11th round): James McDonald, high school, RHP
2002 (17th round): Russell Martin, Chipola College, C
2003 (6th round): Matt Kemp, high school, OF
2003 (39th round): Andy LaRoche, Grayson County College, 3B
2004 (2nd round): Blake DeWitt, high school, 2B/3B
2004 (10th round): Cory Wade, Kentucky Wesleyan College, RHP
2004 (19th round): David Price, high school, LHP (did not sign)
2005 (2nd round): Ivan DeJesus, high school, SS/3B
2005 (4th round): Josh Bell, high school, 3B

Let’s do a short recap of all this information. Ned’s five best moves include two dealing with Manny Ramirez  and not screwing up White’s farm system. His worst moves include signing an overweight outfielder hitting around the Mendoza line, trading a future ace pitcher for middle relievers, not trading away no-name prospects for a bona-fide ace, and signing a pitcher with a torn labrum and a frayed bicep tendon in his pitching arm. With all that, I guess I did forget his greatest achievement–fooling Frank and his master, Jamie, to hiring him and retaining him despite blunder after blunder. Unfortunately, to Doyers fans, Ned is the cockroach that just won’t die.

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Posted August 28, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Fishing is a Skilled Sport   2 comments

Everyone who’s ever been fishing has an elaborate story of their great catch. The culmination of their toils and their preparations and their sacrifices leads to a few prized possesions at the end of the day. Every once in a while, someone catches a prize that ends up being the stuff of legends. Even I, an amateur fisherman at best, have a story of my greatest catch. I was fishing off the coast of Baja California, about 500 miles south of the border. My uncle and I were down there fishing for three days. (In fishing, days consist of the time between 5 AM and noon). On my second night, I believe, late in the morning, something tugged at my line. In my three days there, I caught about 30-50 fish, all whitefish between 10-15 lbs., but one. This one didn’t come easy like the other ones. I was reeling and reeling my line for what seemed like hours, but in reality, I wasn’t far too off. It took me about 45 minutes to reel in my first and only sheephead, weighing in at around 20 lbs. This doesn’t seem like too great of an accomplishment, but catching a sheephead at any weight is an accomplishment. It’s probably equivalent to catching a 40-lb. whitefish. After I caught the sheephead, I broke off one of its teeth and put it in my pocket. (Too bad I lost it before I got back to California.) I treasured that sheephead so much because of how tough it was for me to get it. This is just some of what I went through to get that fish:

– 12-hr ride in the back of a van, the last hour of which was offroading (the return trip was another 12-hrs)
– freezing my butt off at night sleeping in the back of the van
– waking up at 4 AM and warming myself next to the tire fire
– not taking a shower for three days, reeking of fish guts

Yet, I was happy to do it, because, in the end, I caught a sheephead. It wasn’t easy–besides the torturous prepartion, it took skill: I had to use the right kind of bait (I think I used large sardines), lower the line the right way, tempt the fish the right way by slowly reeling in the line to make the sardine look as if it were alive, and I had to reel in the fish as quickly as possible while making sure that there wasn’t so much tension that the fishing line would snap. Besides all of this, I needed luck. Or, so I thought it was luck. But now, I realize it to be the providence of God in helping me better understand a small portion of Christ’s teachings.

Jesus told some of His disciples in Matthew 5: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fisherman had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. (Luke 5:1-11)

Understand how absurd it is for Jesus to tell Simon to “let down your nets for a catch.” The conditions were all wrong. Simon was a fisherman–if this was the right time to be fishing, he would’ve already been out in the water rather than going out there at the command of Jesus. Wrong time of the day, wrong place in the water, wrong temperature… wrong, wrong, wrong. That’s why catching a fish was such a miracle. But Simon didn’t catch a fish–he caught a grip load of fish. Enough to need to call over another boat, almost sinking both boats in the process. This wasn’t Jesus doing a magic trick, entertaining everyone. This was Jesus calling on the hand of God from heaven to bring down a bona-fide pot of gold.
At the end of Christ’s miracle, he says to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” I bet they had some understanding of what Christ meant by this. After all, he was teaching them all day before He called on this miracle. They must have thought that it was going to be a crazy harvest, with thousands upon thousands being saved. Although there were times of mass salvation, there were also dry times. The disciples understood this concept of being “fishers of men” because they understood what it meant to be “fishermen.”

I think that one of our problems today is an oversimplification of evangelism by not really taking to heart the implications of it all. Yes, it is the work of God that saves. However, we have to fully engage our parts as His tools for salvation. Being called a fisherman of God entails faith and trust in the saving work of God’s hand, but it also entails understanding, preparation, and discernment.

There needs to be an understanding of what evangelism entails. We know the gospel, but I must confess that my understanding of salvation theology is remedial. We all understand enough to be saved and, therefore, can share that same salvific message with others. But I think we can all attest to times when we were sharing the gospel and couldn’t answer a question or respond to an objection or can’t quite remember a Scripture verse. Yes, God can work through that, but we have an opportunity to understand our faith much more, not just for head knowledge, but so that the message of God can be further progressed.

The understanding of the gospel goes into preparation, but there is much more entailed in it. We can prepare ourselves by understanding other faiths and their objections. We can prepare ourselves by praying for gospel opportunities to bombard us each and every day. We can prepare ourselves to be “fishers of men” just as people would prepare to be fishers of fish. It will call for a sacrifice (maybe not a showerless weekend), but a sacrifice of time and, even, relationships to a certain extent. Included in the preparation is the actual action of going out to share the gospel. There is a line of thought among some believers that man initiates his relationship with God. But thinking that a man initiates his pursuit of God is as absurd as a fish thinking that he initiated his relationship with the fisherman. The sheephead did not jump into my lap. I prepared myself to catch him, but, most importantly, I dropped my line and dangled my bait in front of him. Likewise, we need to dangle the bait of salvation before the mouths of men so that, by the grace of God, they would realize their need for such food and would eventually lunge into the loving arms of God.

And finally, there is discernment. Simon Peter had discernment. He wasn’t going to be out fishing all night because he knew that he wouldn’t catch anything. That’s why he and the other fishermen were cleaning their nets. Such discernment, however, should always be subordinated to the calling of Christ. When Christ called, even though it would seem illogical to an experienced fisherman, Simon went out and let down his nets. But know that Jesus called fisherman to be “fishers of men.” Fishermen know how to approach the fish. Some fish like the bait propped right out in front of them. Some like them running away from them at a fast pace, like a real fish would. Some just don’t care and will go at anything that’s thrown in front of them. In Paul’s Semon on Mars Hills in Acts 17, Paul (though not a fisherman by trade) starts off with the words of an experienced fisherman: “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.” Part of being a fisherman of God is to understand how to approach people. Everyone isn’t fit for the Four Spiritual Laws. One of the greatest difficulties I have with evangelism is an ability to meet people where they’re at. This is different from the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel that meets people where they’re at and provides a false hope to attain the worldly things they desire. Rather, we are to be like Paul by understanding what they seek and showing them how that leads to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Understanding… preparation… discernment. We all will have hobbies in the future: engineers, doctors, lawyers, linguists, designers, accountants, and employees at cars.com. But we are all professional fisherman. And our Employer keeps us on the clock 24-7 until the time when we meet Him in the air. Yet, so often, we neglect our duties. My bait isn’t good enough, my time’s too precious to fish, I don’t like the stench of it all, I am a bad fisherman. Yet, in understanding the skill involved in being “fishers of men”, I hope we would not neglect the thrill of experiencing God place a fish on our hook so that we could take it for a 45-minute ride that would reel it into the arms of God.

Posted August 25, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

The Ever-Watching Eye of the Conscience   Leave a comment

In the March 22-23, 2008 issue of the Wall Street Journal, I read a really insightful article that spoke of the power of our consciences:

In law enforcement, this lie-detector paradox is clearly on display. Polygraphy is a centerpiece in an expanding range of parole and probation programs that are designed to dissuade sex offenders and other felons from committing more crimes.
The recent experience of convicted gay pedophile Paul Duncan shows the polygraph’s contradictions and, its proponents argue, its promise. Last November, as part of a program in this southern Oregon town to monitor paroled sex offenders, Mr. Duncan sat in a small windowless room in a corrections center with polygraph sensors on his palm, chest, stomach and arm. Under the program, a parolee who fails the test, or admits to parole violations under the threat of a test, can be sent back to prison.
The machine’s operator asked: “Have you had sexual contact with a minor during the last six months?”
Mr. Duncan said he hadn’t. The polygrapher judged him to be lying. Mr. Duncan was sent to jail for 15 days.
In an interview after his release, the 33-year-old Mr. Duncan said reality had been more complicated. Mr. Duncan said he hadn’t, in fact, had contact with a minor. But he admitted he had violated his parole in another way — viewing online pornographic photos of young males, an activity he says had sparked his past pedophilic episodes. Mr. Duncan says he believes that while the polygraph got the specifics wrong, it revealed a broader truth: His conscience was guilty.
“I didn’t disclose my deviant fantasies — and I deserved to fail,” Mr. Duncan said of the test. “Don’t believe anyone who tells you polygraph doesn’t work.”

Although he didn’t commit a “crime”, he was guilty in that his conscience bore witness to the sinfulness in his heart. It’s amazing how the Lord can work to convict hearts. Brothers, let’s not ignore the guilt our consciences put on our hearts over our sins. We can lie to the world, but our hearts are laid bare before God and His polygraph–the conscience.

Helping the poor, serving the needy, and doing good deeds will not relieve your guilt, but will only mask it with a false sense of security. Because you and I know, to some level deep in our hearts, that we are guilty not only against those we wrong, but against a pure and holy God. “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to mygospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:15-16). If you truly consider it, your conscience will reveal that you have transgressed the law of God and are guilty before Him. However, the same God who will judge all of us for our sins is also the one who provided us with the one and only way from receiving what we justly deserve.  “The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, [will] purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). Turn to Him while you can. Turn to Him while His offer to relieve your conscience and purify your life still hold firm. Do not ignore your conscience because God has given it to us to convict our hearts unto repentance… turn to Him–your conscience calls you to it.

Posted August 22, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

An Attempt to Explain Climbing   3 comments

(This was originally posted in September 2006. The original audience was a group of guys who were planning on climbing and conquering Half Dome at Yosemite National Park.)

K2 is the second-highest peak in the world, standing at 28,250 ft. It is one of greatest challenges for climbers to traverse this rock known as “Savage Mountain.” This peak is tougher to climb than Mount Everest because the weather is harsher and more unpredictable. K2 just might be the toughest climb on the face of the earth. 23% of all climbers end up dead. Think about that! 1 out of 4 of the most experienced climbers in the world don’t make it back… at all. They’re probably stuck frozen alongside the mountaintop.

As we all train and get ready to climb our version of K2, I have been pondering the question: Why do men long to climb… things? Anything? Everything? Just something taller than the next guy? Maybe I’m asking this question because I don’t want to study Econ 11, or maybe this question can lead to the deepest truths of what makes men–men. Maybe, the answers at the end of this pondering session will draw us closer to God.

O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods, in whose hand are the depth of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also. The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land. (Psalm 95:1-5)

So why did I choose this verse? What does this verse have to do with climbing mountains other than the fact that it has the word “mountain”? Nothing! It has nothing to do it with but the fact that it has the word. That’s why I picked it.

In just a few days, many of us are venturing out into the wilderness of Yosemite National Park to climb Half Dome. And I can see two reasons for why we’re doing this. One… because we are men, and this is a manly thing to do. We can’t spear an animal and slit its throat. We can’t go to USC and conquer their village. We can’t club women and say, “Me, Tarzan. You, Jane.” So we climb mountains. This brings me to my second reason. We climb because of girls. I’m not exactly sure how this is motivated by girls… but it is. All dumb things that guys do is because there is a girl somehow involved. Have you guys ever gone base-jumping? You will if a girl wants you to.

However, reasons don’t really matter. Whatever the reason is, the one constant is that we will be there and we will conquer Half Dome. It is not necessarily the accomplishment that gets me excited, but the journey. It’s not about about being on top of the world, but the final, struggling steps before we get there. It’s not about basking in the glory of our accomplishment, but about being humble and honest and vulnerable to one another as we talk along the way. Forget the two reasons I just mentioned. There is just one reason why we climb Half Dome: IT IS A WAY FOR US TO BOND AS ONLY MEN KNOW HOW TO DO. Everything that Peter mentioned in his list in the previous post is what makes this trip great. Climbing Half Dome is not an accomplishment. The real accomplishment are the breakthroughs that we get at in our conversations. It’s all about the singing and silly talks as we drive up to Fresno. It’s about the small talk at the dinner table as we’re almost swallowing Mrs. Kwock’s steaks. (They’re just too good to waste time chewing.) It’s about waking up early in the morning, sober and excited for the day ahead. It’s about the girl talk… and, judging by the quality of the group, lots of it. It’s about extolling the glories of God to one another as we’re awed by the beauty surrounding us. It’s about sharing the sin that we struggle with and the passion with which we pursue the Lord. It’s about all of that and more.

But then again, maybe it is about the girls. Because there will be girls that we explain the details of this trip to. Any maybe, just maybe, that’s really why we’re going. In the words of Peter Hahn: “Women! It’s all about the women.”

Afterword: Men, if you haven’t gone climbing or hunting or fishing with other men… go. Not only cuz it’s MANLY, but because that is a forum for men to share intimate fellowship with one another. Women have an easy time talking about heart issues with other women. God has just geared them that way. Men… not so much. We talk about girls, sports, girls, cars, girls. We have a hard time talking about our aspirations, our struggles and other issues deep in our hearts. Nature has a way of turning conversations deep and serious… and having a blast, as well.

John and I, as we celebrate our six packs. (It's getting there.)

This is David and Jonathan biblical love!

This is David and Jonathan biblical love!

Men go to nature to worship the God of that mountain... His name is Yhwh.

Men go to nature to worship the God of that mountain... His name is Yhwh.

Come on... water and a railing... you gotta do the Titanic.

Come on... water and a railing... you gotta do the Titanic.

Man v. Wild

Man v. Wild

We are standing in front of Mitchell Falls. (I dont know what it is originally called or if it even has a name, so I conquered it and named it as my own.)

We are standing in front of Mitchell Falls. (I don't know what it is originally called or if it even has a name, so I conquered it and named it as my own.)

This is known as the Dam-beh Squat (smokers squat) because this is the position Korean men take when they smoke. Women can call it the Kimchee squat.

This is known as the Dam-beh Squat (smoker's squat) because this is the position Korean men take when they smoke. Women can call it the Kimchee squat.

Sweet Lincolns mullet!

Sweet Lincoln's mullet!

Knights of Columbus!

Knights of Columbus!

Remember to stay hydrated.

Remember to stay hydrated.

A friend of mine stated that this picture belongs on the cover of Outdoorsman Magazine--I agree. Outdoorsman Magazine... the balls in your court.

A friend of mine stated that this picture belongs on the cover of "Outdoorsman Magazine"--I agree. Outdoorsman Magazine... the ball's in your court.

What a gangsta-lookin apt, yah?

What a gangsta-lookin' apt, yah?

We do some modeling on the side...

We do some modeling on the side...

Half Dome, I am your master!

Half Dome, I am your master!

Posted August 21, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Stand in Awe   Leave a comment

“The longer I preach, the easier words get for me. I am a word-man now after 13 years of preaching and 6 years of teaching before that… Words are my trade. I minister by means of words and they come relatively easy for me. That’s dangerous. That’s incredibly dangerous. Because you can start preaching on mystery without standing in awe. And you can preach on purity without feeling pure. And you can preach on zeal without spiritual passion… You can preach on God’s holiness and not tremble. You can preach on sin without sorrow. You can preach on heaven without eagerness. And a terrible hardening moves into your life because you’re so good with this thing called words.”

“John Owen was the kind of person… who had climbed so high up the steeps of wonder revealed in the scriptures that he could pull his face up over the ridge to see the ridges. Most people are down here looking up at that first ridge carping at intellectuals trying to understand it. The people who really know how low they are are the ones that climb high enough in biblical revelation to see over the first ridge to the other ones that disappear into the clouds. These people down here who never got to the top of the first ridge–they might be a little impressed–but they haven’t even begun to see what Owens saw [when he climbed] and said, ‘I haven’t even touched it.'” — John Piper

The following are a couple of short videos of Francis Chan; peek in as he just stands in awe of the God who, without even sweating, created the earth that we know in 6 days.

Posted August 19, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Al Mohler, on Prosperity Theology   Leave a comment

“Prosperity theology is a False Gospel. Its message is unbiblical and its promises fail. God never assures His people of material abundance or physical health. Instead, Christians are promised the riches of Christ, the gift of eternal life, and the assurrance of glory in the eternal presence of the living God.

“In the end, the biggest problem with prosperity theology is not that it promises too much, but that it promises far too little. The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers salvation from sin, not a platform for earthly prosperity.” — R. Albert Mohler

Posted August 18, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized

Quote of the Day   Leave a comment

“The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, should also make it their business all of their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.” — John Owen

Posted August 17, 2009 by Mitchell J. Kim in Uncategorized